Students learn unique skills in automotive hybrid repair class

Students learn unique skills in automotive hybrid repair class

Michael Clark

Vincent Clark (left) and Bassem Nafti look at the engine of a Toyota Prius during the Hybrid and Electric Drives class, March 4, 2013 at Santa Barbara City College.

Antonio Salcido, Staff Writer

The automotive hybrid class offers students and established technicians the rare opportunity to learn the skills they need to make repairs on hybrids in an increasingly “green” society.

The six week long course teaches the principal components behind hybrid and electric drives, and how to make repairs that live up to industry standards. Students can work directly on a Toyota Prius, along with other specialized hybrid equipment uncommonly found in public education.

”I believe that educational institutions should take a leadership role in determining what emerging fields students should learn about,” said Dr. Douglas Hersh, dean of technologies. “City College took a bold step in offering this program, and it has paid off in the training that incumbent workers have already received.”

Safety procedure is a main aspect of the curriculum. Unlike traditional engines, hybrid engines require extremely high voltage, which makes maintenance without the proper training potentially deadly. Students also learn the theory behind hybrid technology and will discover how and why the repairs work.

“The students have been very intuitive, very hungry for knowledge, and very open to learning about new systems,” said Jack Rosebro, the course instructor.

Rosebro is considered one of the foremost experts in hybrid technology and teaches across the nation.  He expects hybrid repairs to be a mainstream technology in coming years, something every technician needs to be familiar with.

“Rosebro is nationally renowned not simply for his knowledge and expertise, but also his ability to share this knowledge with others” said Hersh. “In a twist on the old saying, ‘he who knows, teaches.’”

The increasing need for technicians familiar with hybrid cars will only become greater. With gas prices over $4 per gallon, fuel-efficient cars are becoming more appealing.

Independent mechanics in the area are taking advantage of this opportunity to be ahead of the curve, by enrolling in the course.  Last year, half of the students in the class were already established auto technicians. According to JD Power and Associates, the amount of hybrid cars in the United States is expected to triple by 2015, making now the time to learn the necessary maintenance skills.

The course is not required in order to receive an Automotive degree from City College, however, the ability to make hybrid and electrical related repairs, will be a plus when students enter the job market.

As Rosebro puts it, this class will be “another tool in the mechanics toolbox.”